How to build a strong employer brand to attract early talent

Apr 6, 2023 | Attraction & marketing, How-to

How to build a strong employer brand to attract early talent

There are five simple steps to building a strong employer brand that will help you be an employer of choice among early talent, explains Grahame Jones at Soukias Jones.

The rise of remote working has changed everything. Most employees expect flexibility and for some early talent (those looking for first jobs) it will be paramount for life in the ‘new normal’.

For employers, it means making culture and employee experience the true standout benefits of the modern workplace.

Each year, Glassdoor compiles a list of the 50 best places to work in the UK, based on anonymous survey feedback from employees up and down the country.

This list continues to be dominated by big-name firms that invest heavily in their employee value propositions (EVPs). Every EVP is based on the benefits of working at a particular organisation, developed and articulated.

Big names and bigger budgets have the resources to offer employees fancy offices, unlimited time off and other shiny benefits. Most other organisations cannot match these.

Being an employer of choice not only helps you to keep hold of your best people, but gives you first pick of talent.

So, if you don’t have millions to spend, how can you develop a strong employer brand that will attract top early talent, setting you well on your way to becoming an employer of choice?

1) Be famous for something

Apple: cool. Walt Disney: fun. IBM: technology. Dyson: innovation. All these companies can be summed up in a single word.

Dig deep to find the essence of your brand and keep digging until you find your fame. You could start with a question: when Gen Z thinks of your firm, what thought, feeling or emotion do you want them to have?

In no more than a handful of words: why would a graduate or school leaver choose to join you to develop a career? Keep it truthful, authentic and appealing.

2) Push the boat out

Remember Gen Z is highly social, digital and design savvy. They think and act creatively, and see nothing wrong with having fun. Do the same.

Gen Z grew up with online entertainment, seeking out fun and irreverent content on TikTok, YouTube, Insta and beyond.

Some professions are naturally serious but they don’t have to be boring. Don’t go wacky and left field, but don’t forget the fun. Build a brand image that appeals to discerning graduates and school leavers.

3) Be open, honest and authentic

There is a great deal of discourse about how Gen Z wants to engage with brands that do good.

Even more important is their desire to engage with authentic and truthful brands that follow through. That means being transparent: from having a clear purpose and stats to making available your key performance indicator dashboard.

Gen Z loves organisations that do more, so be prepared to go as far as possible (there will always be someone prepared to go further). Be open, not just about what works, but also what hasn’t.

4) Planning isn’t boring

Building a positioning won’t happen by chance. Don’t be tempted to jump straight into building a website. Create a few talking-head videos… job done? It’s essential to develop a good plan.

The starting point is research. Get to know your audiences. Find out what kinds of help graduates and school leavers are looking for to build their careers. Establish how they consume content, and discover what they already think of you.

Then plan a carefully targeted communications campaign to position you as the employer of choice in your category. This will take time. To develop your own awareness and understanding – and theirs – requires patience and repetition.

5) Tell your story

The path to become an employer of choice consists of many stepping stones.

One is to create a working environment that inspires employees and makes others think, ‘wow, I’d love to work there’.

Another is to offer benefits that employees value. EY, for example, funds game consoles and gym membership through its Wellbeing Fund.

Potential employees will look for merit-based progression, diversity and inclusion, two-way communication that is open and honest, strong training and development opportunities, and inspiring leaders. These are the steps your story needs to cover.

Tell it authentically, drawing on the viewpoints of graduates and school leavers already on their career paths at your firm. These are excellent ambassadors, and they will offer validation and detail.

You can read examples of attraction campaigns that helped firms creatively tell their story.

The art of positioning is to put a select handful of messages into the minds of your audiences, then repeat these messages until they sink in and start to grow.

It’s no different for Gen Z as an audience. This group consumes information and communicates no less than the rest of us, but they do it differently, and with a distinct desire for congruence  – honesty, authenticity and follow-through.

You may also be interested in…

How to make social media work harder for your brand

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